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Best way to do broad locks single-handed?

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1 minute ago, blackrose said:

By far the best way to do a broad lock single handed is on a widebeam! ?

DSC00539 - Copy.jpg

Now what can you say to that?

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I tend to just work one side of the lock. 

Opening just the one gate, and working the paddles on that side. 

Slowly and carefully. 

I find every big lock behaves differently. 

My boat’s 48’ so will bash about if not careful. I keep it to the side with one turn of the centre rope around a bollard, and holding the end to lower or take up slack. 

 

 

 

Be very careful with people offering help and opening the paddles fast. 

 

Have fun with the gates on the other side that open when you don’t want them too. 

 

And when going down, if your boat ends up on the other side behind the closed gate and not the open one, there’ a knack to getting back on the open side. 

 

If using the ladders make sure your boat is on the side with the ladder. ?

 

Enioy

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1 hour ago, blackrose said:

By far the best way to do a broad lock single handed is on a widebeam! ?

DSC00539 - Copy.jpg

The broader the lock, the broader the wide beam you should get. These guys weren't single handed though. They even get a lock keeper to help them.

lemonroyd1.JPG.2c713ce39e932d1a2928012369a8886e.JPG

Edited by Jen-in-Wellies

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10 hours ago, stort_mark said:

long story but was trying to do the lock with family aboard but having their tea

This sounds like my father in law.  Nothing says “happy, collegiate and relaxed family boating” like a captain who feels the need to keep going despite the crews need to feed their hunger!

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9 hours ago, stort_mark said:

Thanks for the excellent advice from everyone. Al makes good sense.

 

There are a few things I don't understand though.

 

I don't understand the bit about putting the boat in diagonally. I'm sure it's good advice, I just don't understand it. I would have thought alongside the nearside wall would be best.

I would normally let the re-opening gate close by the outflow of water through the bottom paddles unless the gate was open more than a few feet. or is that frowned upon/banned? ?I'd be worried about being yanked off the back of the boat if I was holding on to a heavy gate....

 

I thought all T&M was narrow locks. Or do you mean the locks at Sawley and Beeston, etc, on the Trent?

 

A couple of additional points/questions:

 

Going down, is it best to open the nearside paddle first or the offside paddle, or doesn't it matter? Is it best to have the boat fully forward when starting to lift the paddle?

 

Going up, is it best to have the engine in gear (in reverse) to counter the pull forward as the lock starts to fill? And also to stick the stern against the lower gate at first, then shifting the boat forward as it fills?

 

I think my concerns or nervousness is as much about the fact that this boat is much shorter too. Fortunately, all the plates, cups, on board are enamel and would be slightly improved by being hurled around the cabin.

 

On the Calder & Hebble, the only lock that I remember causing a problem was the Upper Brighouse Lock. I must have done the lower lock off the river on my own too, but without problems. I recall that I stupidly (I was in a hurry, it was the last lock of the day) just raised all the top paddles including the gate paddles.....). Subsequent locks were down with three teenage boys manning the lock!   

On broad locks I  usually tie up fore and aft and only use the centreline on narrow locks.

The upper Brighouse lock needs to have the paddles opened slowly as a couple of clicks on the ratchet doesn't seem to do much,but the next couple cause a bit of a tsunami! To add to the "fun"the paddles are held up by the pressure of the water,and won't wind down untill the lock is nearly full.So if you over do opening the upper paddles,you can helplessly watch your boat crashing from wall to wall.

Don't ask how I know this!

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3 hours ago, Goliath said:

I tend to just work one side of the lock. 

Opening just the one gate, and working the paddles on that side. 

Slowly and carefully. 

Doing that on parts of the L&L will drain the pound above the lock due to gate leakage. 

 

It's the single most common cause of Wigan Junction pound being too low to navigate when boats coming up Poolstock do it.

 

I'm not saying don't do it, but please check how badly the lock leaks first ... and if it's leaking work all the paddles to get through the lock faster.

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29 minutes ago, TheBiscuits said:

Doing that on parts of the L&L will drain the pound above the lock due to gate leakage. 

 

It's the single most common cause of Wigan Junction pound being too low to navigate when boats coming up Poolstock do it.

 

I'm not saying don't do it, but please check how badly the lock leaks first ... and if it's leaking work all the paddles to get through the lock faster.

This is a good point and it applies to the GU locks that the OP will be doing. In my experience they all seem reluctant to make a level so using all paddles to speed things up is wise. There are back pumping schemes at most if not all flights but it can still lead to localised low pounds if locks are filled slowly and allowed to leak significantly at the tail.

 

At Buckby top lock there are banners on the balance beams imploring boaters to save water by closing all the paddles and gates after use. However one top ground paddle is out of use and the lower gates are in poor condition and leak significantly. The net effect is that the lock takes about 10 minutes to fill while wasting a large volume of water and would probably never make a level without the three functioning paddles all open. It’s been like that for at least a couple of months. Very annoying.

 

JP

Edited by Captain Pegg

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35 minutes ago, TheBiscuits said:

Doing that on parts of the L&L will drain the pound above the lock due to gate leakage. 

 

It's the single most common cause of Wigan Junction pound being too low to navigate when boats coming up Poolstock do it.

 

I'm not saying don't do it, but please check how badly the lock leaks first ... and if it's leaking work all the paddles to get through the lock faster.

I’ve learned that one, in different places over time, so I keep my eye out. 

But generally, I find working the one side lets me see how the boat’s behaving.

And if owt does go wrong I can react quicker.

 

When I do open the opposite paddles it’s when the water has settled a bit better. Either waiting til the water is above the cill coming up, or below coming down. 

 

I sometimes do it on narrow locks too, if I’m dawdling and want to chat or look at the view. 

 

But yes, good point taken ?

 

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Having singlehanded almost all of the broad locks on the system (except the K&A) , and learned something new every trip, I can add only 3 things:

 

Expect the unexpected.

 

The C&H locks are the hardest.

 

Arthur and Goliath are right - if anyone else is wanting to help - be VERY wary.   My nastiest experience for some time was last week when a workman on Lock 2 of the Rochdale suddenly opened a paddle just as I was stepping off my boat onto a ladder.  I've also twice had to complain about volockies opening paddles without asking and before I had the boat under control.  Other boaters are (usually) OK.

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1 hour ago, Mac of Cygnet said:

Expect the unexpected.

 

The C&H locks are the hardest.

I can't remember which lock it is, but there is one paddle on one lock on the C&H that does nothing for about ten clicks then throws your boat completely to the other side of the lock on the next click.  Instantly. 

 

It gets us every single time we come up that navigation. 

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Some of those big steel gates on the Warks Avon locks are the hardest I've done single handed. I'm not sure if it's because they're not balanced or if it's the water pressure or just the weight of the gate, but some are almost impossible to open on your own.

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19 hours ago, PaulD said:

The T&M wide locks after Shardlow are all hard work going up. You have to go back and hold the centre rope round a bollard to stop it running forward. Even then it will be all over the place. Worth waiting for another boat if possible. 

I must admit I don't remember wide locks after Shardlow. I *do* remember several locks having ridiculously leaky bottom gates, making it very hard to fill the chamber. That was 2007 though.

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19 hours ago, Neil2 said:

 

 

It's all about going uphill isn't it?  I can think of many locks where I honestly don't know how folk manage going up on their own, the Avon for a start, many of the K&A locks, and how do people cope with the Thames locks where you are supposed to have fore and aft lines ashore?

If you mean the Warwickshire Avon, this I how I do it.

1.  Empty lock and open gates.

2. Check there's not ANT volockies around.

3. Enter the lock and tie up using the centre line only, the line should be taut with the boat hard to the lock wall. (in your face ANT!!! ;-))

4. Leave the boat in forwards tickover.

5.  Shut gates behind you.

6.  Open the paddle on the same side as you boat just enough to start the lock filling.

7.  Wait.

8. Wait some more.

9. The forwards tickover should keep the boat tight to the side and the rope taut as the boat moves forward over the cill.

10.  If feeling brave, open the paddle a little more.

11.  Wait some more.

 

Eventually the lock will be full.  It will take a while but there will be no drama.

 

I've not done many wide locks other than the Warwickshire Avon but I suspect this system should work for most broad locks.  The trick is to do it slowly.  If it takes 15 minutes to fill the lock, who cares?

 

I imagine this system won't work so well for boats over 60' but if you're filling the lock nice and slowly you should be able to go to the bollard and take in the slack on the line when the bow is touching the top gate.

 

 

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17 hours ago, Dharl said:

 

i do that on narrow locks, but dont on broad locks after I got my bow fender trapped underneth part of the gate.    Nothing damaged apart from the chains holding the fender and my pride luckly, but a learning point.  

This is why I can't stress enough that you must fill the lock slowly.

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16 hours ago, Neil2 said:

Going up wide locks, do you single handers tend to use lock ladders or is it easy/practical to step off at the lock tail (with a rope) as you can with narrow locks?

I've occassionally seen single handers doing this but I don't.

If I step off the boat at the lock tail then I have two choices:

 

1. leave the boat in forward tickover.  This doesn't work for me at all since my boat moves far too quickly in forward tickover so that it clobbers the other end of the lock, no matter how much I slow down before stepping off.

2. Leave the boat in neutral and control the boat in the lock with the rope I'm carrying.  Then control the boat in the lock. This is a proper faff and for me it's much easier to use the ladder.  I always take the boat into the lock, then slow right down to gently nudge the top gate/cill.  Then put in forward tickover and go up the ladder.

 

I can imagine that stepping off at the lock tail can work on a 70' boat as it won't have the space to pick up speed on its own.  My little boat doesn't work like that at all.

 

Edited by doratheexplorer

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9 minutes ago, doratheexplorer said:

I've occassionally seen single handers doing this but I don't.

If I step off the boat at the lock tail then I have two choices:

 

1. leave the boat in forward tickover.  This doesn't work for me at all since my boat moves far too quickly in forward tickover so that it clobbers the other end of the lock, no matter how much I slow down before stepping off.

2. Leave the boat in neutral and control the boat in the lock with the rope I'm carrying.  Then control the boat in the lock. This is a proper faff and for me it's much easier to use the ladder.  I always take the boat into the lock, then slow right down to gently nudge the top gate/cill.  Then put in forward tickover and go up the ladder.

 

I can imagine that stepping off at the lock tail can work on a 70' boat as it won't have the space to pick up speed on its own.  My little boat does work like that at all.

 

I step off with a 35’ boat. That’s partly because the broad locks I am used to single handing are set up for that - and are the same ones the OP needs to know about. It’s also because my boat has a very square hull of slightly deeper draft and a slightly larger propellor than a clonecraft and it isn’t going to stay against against the lock wall when I put it in reverse to stop. What usually ensues is a right faff to get it alongside the lock ladder and close enough so I can step up on to the ladder via the roof.

 

For me it’s easier to slow down and drop the boat into neutral and step off with a line. The boat will be stopped and restrained alongside the wall much more quickly than if I used the ladder. Again though it comes down to the boat, the set up of the lock and the preferences of the boater. I don’t much care for climbing onto my roof and up a ladder in wet weather in any circumstance.

 

You don’t have to be too cautious with GU (ex-GJC) paddles once you’ve figured out how they affect the boat. I just do them in a particular sequence - boat side ground paddle, opposite side ground paddle, opposite side gate paddle, boat side gate paddle - while making sure I attend to the line after opening each paddle. It’s the opposite side paddles on the Birmingham line Ham Baker geared mechanisms you have to be careful with. They can send a boat on a round trip of the lock. I always wait for the boat to be well clear of the sluice inlets (which are along the bottom of the lock on the same side as the boat) before opening them. Those locks are quicker than ex-GJC ones with only one side open in any case.

 

The Avon locks are a different beast altogether. The whole cycle can take up to half an hour on one of those. No GU lock should need much more than 10 minutes.

 

JP

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3 minutes ago, Captain Pegg said:

I step off with a 35’ boat. That’s partly because the broad locks I am used to single handing are set up for that - and are the same ones the OP needs to know about. It’s also because my boat has a very square hull of slightly deeper draft and a slightly larger propellor than a clonecraft and it isn’t going to stay against against the lock wall when I put it in reverse to stop. What usually ensues is a right faff to get it alongside the lock ladder and close enough so I can step up on to the ladder via the roof.

 

For me it’s easier to slow down and drop the boat into neutral and step off with a line. The boat will be stopped and restrained alongside the wall much more quickly than if I used the ladder. Again though it comes down to the boat, the set up of the lock and the preferences of the boater. I don’t much care for climbing onto my roof and up a ladder in wet weather in any circumstance.

 

You don’t have to be too cautious with GU (ex-GJC) paddles once you’ve figured out how they affect the boat. I just do them in a particular sequence - boat side ground paddle, opposite side ground paddle, opposite side gate paddle, boat side gate paddle - while making sure I attend to the line after opening each paddle. It’s the opposite side paddles on the Birmingham line Ham Baker geared mechanisms you have to be careful with. They can send a boat on a round trip of the lock. I always wait for the boat to be well clear of the sluice inlets (which are along the bottom of the lock on the same side as the boat) before opening them. Those locks are quicker than ex-GJC ones with only one side open in any case.

 

The Avon locks are a different beast altogether. The whole cycle can take up to half an hour on one of those. No GU lock should need much more than 10 minutes.

 

JP

Sorry if I wasn't clear, I was talking about narrow locks.  I can see more of a benefit of stepping off on broad locks.  I still don't though, because my habits are formed from mostly using narrow locks.

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Not a lot to add. My only variation to what is said above is that, when going up in  a broad lock, I normally use ropes - bow line and stern line. I have a long light line that lies along the roof of the boat and is tied onto the bow rope. So when I go up the ladder I take the stern line and this light line, and then use it to get hold of the bow line and secure it to a bollard in about the middle of the lock. Then opening the paddle on the same side will draw the boat forwards to take up any slack and hold it into the lock. I often don't bother attaching the stern line to anything.

 

Here it is in use on the River Nene - where it is only sensible and necessary to use to the gate paddle on the same side as the boat. (You can't cross the top gates so it really isn't sensible to use both gate paddles).spacer.png

Edited by Scholar Gypsy

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The  broad locks north of Braunston on the GU are very easy for single handing - provided there is no appreciable wind.

 

Going up, I put the boat in neutral and step off the back onto the lock landing, run up the steps with the centre line and strap the boat to a standstill on the rearmost bollard, then secure the rope to that bollard. close the bottom gates, and open the top paddle.

 

Going down, I need to use the ladder to get back onto the boat.

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11 hours ago, The Dreamer said:

This sounds like my father in law.  Nothing says “happy, collegiate and relaxed family boating” like a captain who feels the need to keep going despite the crews need to feed their hunger!

Well not really. Although often guilty of that! IIRC tea had arrived a little early and we needed to get off the river at the end of the day to moor and were planning to moor up in the basin. We had done much of the Huddersfield Narrow on 2" of water (a "flood" it was described as then; not sure if it's any different now) and the locks seemed easy later in the day. I'd love to do that trip again (Manchester to Sowerby Bridge)

 

10 hours ago, Mad Harold said:

On broad locks I  usually tie up fore and aft and only use the centreline on narrow locks.

The upper Brighouse lock needs to have the paddles opened slowly as a couple of clicks on the ratchet doesn't seem to do much,but the next couple cause a bit of a tsunami! To add to the "fun"the paddles are held up by the pressure of the water,and won't wind down untill the lock is nearly full.So if you over do opening the upper paddles,you can helplessly watch your boat crashing from wall to wall.

Don't ask how I know this!

You know, I suspect, for exactly the same reason I know! ??

I had read about hydraulic paddles before (and - I think - used locks with them fitted but I guess I had never experienced the need to suddenly need to wind them down. Until then. I *think* they are gate paddles too! It was like the opening of the sluices at the Hoover Dam. Anyway, what doesn't kill you, improves you as they say in parachuting.

 

 

Thanks once again everyone for all the shared knowledge. A lot confirmed what I already thought or remembered but there were some really helpful new things (esp about using all the paddles...I would prefer to just use one set but I hadn't thought about the leakage; also the diagonal going downhill.)

 

I have always been wary of people wanting to help. It happened a lot when I went through Birmingham. 

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8 minutes ago, doratheexplorer said:

Sorry if I wasn't clear, I was talking about narrow locks.  I can see more of a benefit of stepping off on broad locks.  I still don't though, because my habits are formed from mostly using narrow locks.

Aha. I’d assumed you meant broad locks as per @Neil2’s question. I generally use the lock ladders going up narrow locks but will usually haul the boat out when going down so I can shut the gates. That’s in large part because the locks I do most often on the W&B don’t have steps at the tail you can easily use from a moving boat while carrying a line. They are however OK for getting back on board.

 

JP

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13 hours ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

The broader the lock, the broader the wide beam you should get. These guys weren't single handed though. They even get a lock keeper to help them.

lemonroyd1.JPG.2c713ce39e932d1a2928012369a8886e.JPG

This looks so familiar and it's annoying me that I can't think where it is. Somewhere along the Aire and Calder? I have been through this lock.

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19 minutes ago, NB Caelmiri said:

This looks so familiar and it's annoying me that I can't think where it is. Somewhere along the Aire and Calder? I have been through this lock.

Spot on. Lemonroyd Lock on the A&C, back in 2012.

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7 minutes ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

Spot on. Lemonroyd Lock on the A&C, back in 2012.

Ahh that's the fella. I shall be heading that way again in a week or so on my way to my winter mooring.

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2 hours ago, Captain Pegg said:

It’s also because my boat has a very square hull of slightly deeper draft and a slightly larger propellor than a clonecraft and it isn’t going to stay against against the lock wall when I put it in reverse to stop. What usually ensues is a right faff to get it alongside the lock ladder and close enough so I can step up on to the ladder via the roof.

 

Keep a short shaft on the roof so you can push off the opposite wall to bring the boat back to the side.

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